Edition 2020

Photo description: Cyclist passing a sign on the cycle path saying ‘Smoke-free’.

How many adults smoke or have smoked?

In 2014, 26 percent of Dutch people aged 18 years and over smoked; in 2019 this figure had fallen to 22 percent. At the same time, the proportion of adults who never smoked increased from 42 to 46 percent. The share of ex-smokers has remained unchanged (33 percent) since 2014.

How many Dutch adults smoke or used to smoke?25%smoke34%quit smoking41%have never smoked18%smoke31%quit smoking51%have never smoked

Men are more likely to be smokers, while women are more likely never to have smoked. In 2019, 25 percent of men smoked compared with 18 percent of women. Over a third of men and just under a third of women have smoked in the past, but have now stopped. 41 percent of men and 51 percent of women have never smoked.

Fewer smokers and more older ex-smokers

Nearly 30 percent of people aged 18 to 29 years smoke occasionally, while less than 10 percent of over-75s smoke. We see more ex-smokers as people become older: 13 percent of people aged 18 to 29 years, and more than half of over-65s. The number of people who have never smoked actually decreases with age: from 58 percent among 18 to 29‑year-olds to 30 percent among 65 to 74‑year-olds. Over-75s are more likely never to have smoked than people aged 65 to 74 years (40 percent).

Smoking behaviour of adults, 2019 (%)
Leeftijd Smoker Former smoker Non-smoker
18 to 29 yrs 29 12.8 58.2
30 to 39 yrs 26 22.1 51.9
40 to 49 yrs 23.4 27.6 49
50 to 54 yrs 23.9 28.4 47.7
55 to 64 yrs 21 41 38
65 to 74 yrs 14.1 55.7 30.2
75 yrs and over 7.7 52.7 39.6

Quarter of over-25s with a low level of education smoke

People of 25 years of age and older with a low level of education (primary or pre-vocational secondary education) smoke more often than people with a high level of education (university education): 26 percent versus 11 percent. People with a low level of education are also more likely to be ex-smokers (40 percent) than those with a high level of education (30 percent). On the other hand, 60 percent of people with a high level of education say they have never smoked, compared to 35 percent of people with a lower level of education.

More smokers among people with a migration background

Twenty percent of adults without a migration background (i.e. Dutch background) smoke. This is less than among over-18s with a western or non-western migration background (both 26 percent). However, people with a non-western migration background are much less likely to be ex-smokers, and are much more likely never to have smoked than people with a native Dutch or western migration background. This is partly due to age: people with a non-western migration background are on average younger than the other two groups.

Smoking behaviour by migration background, 2019 (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
Migratieachtergrond Smoker Former smoker Non-smoker
The Netherlands 20.5 35.4 44.1
Western 26.3 31.8 41.9
Non-western 25.6 15.6 58.8

The questions


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.